Madrid, 17 March 2014. The referendum on the annexation of Crimea by Russia, which formal annexation was made 18 March 2014, is over but not the cost and consequences. The United States and the EU are threatening Russia with economic sanctions and diplomatic blacklisting on the grounds that the referendum, which the Russians are alleged to have aided and abetted, was destabilizing and against Ukrainian law.
Spain, an EU member-state, was probably one of those who were biting their nails while waiting for the results of the balloting to come in. Nobody in the Spanish government was admitting publicly that an overwhelming majority favoring Crimea’s secession from Ukraine will fire up Artur Mas, the secessionist president of Catalonia, and unilaterally declare the independence of the region from Spain if Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stuck to his guns – figuratively speaking, of course. Rajoy has already said he won’t “be the president [of the central government] who said yes to an illegal referendum” that gave the Catalans the unconstitutional choice between remaining part of Spain or becoming an independent state.
Crimea will presumably be a powerful incentive for Artur Mas to go ahead and proclaim Catalonian independence if Catalonia is denied a referendum. Or will he now be emboldened to do the referendum anyway, notwithstanding the Spanish government’s refusal to condone it,whatever the cost?
The political climate in Spain is all that less tranquil in the post-Crimea era.
Update: On 17 March, following the official announcement of the referendum results, the Supreme Council of Crimea declared the formal independence of the Republic of Crimea, comprising the territories of both the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
Featured image/Elemental 5 Digital, Unsplash
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